Friday, November 18, 2011

Teaching Techniques

by Linda Kline
Director of Education

In my last post I talked about the pros and cons of teaching specific projects versus techniques. As both a student and teacher, I love technique classes. I like learning a new medium, skill, or technique, and then applying that application in my own creative vision.

I’m one of those students who signs up for a class and never finishes the project. At my work bench, I keep a box full of partially completed classroom pieces. I’m sure I’ll never finish those pieces. But, I do enjoy ruminating over them, pondering the various skills and techniques that I learned in those classes and how I’ve moved forward by incorporating those mastered skills into my work.

Above: PMCC Senior Instructor Marlynda Taylor and student.

Before taking a class, I give myself permission to enjoy the learning process. To continually learn and grow as a teacher – to bring new energy to our classes – we need to take classes as often as possible. I use my class time to focus on the skills, not the outcome. It’s very freeing and much more enjoyable. I see students getting frustrated because they can’t keep pace with the group and fear they won’t finish the piece. They impose unnecessary stress on themselves and forget to have FUN!

There are amazingly talented teachers all over the world teaching incredibly beautiful metal clay projects. The designs they create and share with their students are part of the branding of their name and artistic image. You may leave their class wearing a piece which everyone will identify with that designer/teacher. The real trick is in learning their technique and then giving it your own voice.

I like teaching technique classes. I usually have 3-4 good finished pieces of the technique I’ll be demonstrating, bezel setting or riveting, for instance, and I prepare for class by showing samples that are breakdowns of each stage of the process. This gives students a broad perspective of the endless options available to them using the skills we will be covering, as well as some step-by-step guidance. If students feel they need to “copy” a piece of my work, I encourage them to go right ahead. This relieves the stress for those students who get creative brain freeze and can’t come up with an idea of what they want to make. Those whose brains are in creative overdrive will already be planning their design strategy!

Above: Class samples by PMCC Artistic Advisor Lora Hart.

Remember, don’t over look the need to have good written instructions, with photos and drawings, if possible. And most importantly, show your students your mistakes. This lets them know what can go wrong and it lets them know we’ve all had to learn some lessons the hard way.

Creative Blessings,

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